Palestinian Authority Prisoners Minister Issa Qaraqe said Monday that President Mahmoud Abbas refused an Israeli offer for the staged release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for returning to peace talks.Whether Netanyahu made the offer or not is besides the point. The point is that Abbas feels confident enough to tell his people that he refuses to allow some prisoners to be released unless his maximal demands are met up front.
Abbas insists that all 123 prisoners held since before the 1994 Oslo agreement be freed in a single release, Qaraqe said.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported earlier Monday that Israel offered to release some 25 Palestinian prisoners convicted of the murder of Israelis, followed by another 100 prisoners by the end of the year.
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu would authorize the gesture during or after a direct meeting with Abbas, not before, the report said.
Netanyahu's spokesman Ofer Gendelman denied the report of the prisoners offer.
And the cost to Abbas is nil - the talks would end like other talks ended, with Abbas refusing to negotiate and only agreeing to hold talks to make the West and the Quartet happy. But he would have lots of photo-ops with the released murderers that the PA will honor with parades.
Well, to be fair, his secular citizens might stone him to death for talking with Zionists. Abbas must find it most convenient that he can rely on a new "right wing" that he can now blame for his reticence to talk to Israel.
And there is no "left wing." No "moderates." No "peace activists."
Yet the West still expects a peace agreement.